You look good. It has to be true -- your mother tells you so all the time. But her completely unbiased opinion aside, who's to say that you couldn't look even better?

There are many ways to improve your "look." You can get a new dress, new shoes, new nose, lose weight, gain weight, or visit a monk and get your soul cleansed. But these methods all involve time, money, or delayed gratification. You want to look prettier NOW, and for FREE, dammit! Well, that may be a tad unrealistic, but there is a way to improve your general appearance in a couple of minutes and at a relatively low cost: improve the way you slap on that makeup.

With powder puff in hand, we're here to guide you through the sometimes glamorous, sometimes complicated world of makeup. We'll show you what to buy, how to put it on, and even how to take it all off when the day is done. And we've included some cool makeup tips for all you already makeup-savvy gals, too.

But before we get down to business: you should take what you're about to learn from this SYW and use it to wear makeup as an accessory, not a mask. Yes, it's corny, and we're sorry, but we just had to tell you one more time (because your mom kept bugging us): Makeup will make your face look nice, but it's inner beauty that counts the most.

Now let's do something about that heinous face of yours!

Just to make sure you don't leave the house looking like you should be part of a circus clown act, check out this video on how to apply the right amount of rouge and more.



Part of the fun of putting on makeup is mixing and matching various colors and shades for different looks and effects. But it's important that when you choose a color, it must suit your skin type, skin color, and eye color. If you have dark skin tones, bright red blush won't blend into your skin, no matter how hard you try to rub it in. And if you're pale, black eyeshadow won't win you any admirers - instead, people will be asking you who won the fight (or maybe they'll just think you're goth). So be realistic and keep reminding yourself that certain colors and ingredients look better in their packaging and on other people.

Now onto the nitty-gritty details of what to look for in each makeup product:

Facial makeup
Eye makeup
Lip makeup

Facial makeup

Facial makeup (concealer, foundation, and powder) was invented to make your skin look flawless. Nobody has flawless skin all the time, and if you do, we suggest that you skip this facial makeup section and click here. As for the remaining 99.99% of you, the chart below explains what kind of facial makeup you need:

Skin TypeFacial Makeup Type Dry Liquid or Cream Normal to Dry Liquid or Cream Normal to Oily Oil-free liquid or Powder Oily Oil-free liquid with a matte finish Combination Liquid, Cream, or Powder (whatever balances your face)

When picking out a facial makeup, you have no choice: you have to get the color that's closest to your own skin color. If you fail to obey this rule, you'll end up looking as if you got a really weird tan, or like a female Michael Jackson (neither of which is desirable). Don't test facial makeup on your hand or arm; apply it to your neck or face for a more accurate match. Here are the different types of facial makeup, dissected:

  • Concealer. Concealer (a.k.a. "cover stick") goes under foundation and is used for spot treatments. It's great at hiding baggy eyes, pimples, and other blemishes. It comes in liquid bottles and tubes (which are thinner and good for drier skin), and sticks and compacts (which are thicker and good for oilier skin). Choose a concealer that is slightly lighter than your regular skin color - the foundation that you apply over it will even it out.

  • Foundation. Foundation goes on all over your face to make it looks uniform and smooth. It comes in three types: liquid, cream, and powder. Make sure that your foundation is oil-based for dry skin, oil-free for oily skin, and water-based for combination skin.

  • Powder. Powder can be applied over foundation to help "set" it, but its main purpose is to help keep your face looking fresh as the day wears on. For that reason, powder usually goes in portable, easy-to-use packaging. While lots of people like loose powder, we prefer pressed powder - it's just neater and it seems to last longer.

We plan to tell you how to put all this stuff on later; feel free to skip ahead if you just can't wait.

Eye makeup

Eye makeup (eyeliner, eyeshadow, and mascara) is arguably the most fun type of makeup. With a quick sweep of a sponge-tipped applicator or cute little brush, you can go from girl-next-door innocent to positively trampy. Here's a handy little chart to help you figure out what colors would best suit your eye color:

  • Brown eyes: Shades of slate blue, gray, and plum will help brown eyes stand out.

  • Green eyes: Shades of pink, salmon, mauve, and brownish-pink will help green eyes look even greener.

  • Blue eyes: Shades of brown, camel, and taupe will help blue eyes appear even bluer.

Now here's a little about each eye makeup member; you'll learn about applying them in step 5 (or watch a quick video now and learn how to get that smokey eye look):

  • Eyeliner. Eyeliner belongs on the base of your lids, and its purpose is to enhance the size and shape of your eyes. Some people also like to line the bottom of their eyes, which really has a dramatic effect. Eyeliner comes in many different colors and forms, including pencil and powder (ideal for a "natural" look), and cake and liquid (for a more "dramatic" look).

  • Eyeshadow. Eyeshadow goes on each entire lid and sometimes in the space between your lids and your eyebrows. It comes in a variety of colors and also several different forms, including cream (good for dry skin), matte (good for oily skin), and pencil (good for all types of skin).

  • Mascara. Mascara only used to be available in black, but nowadays you can find it in all sorts of colors. So while black mascara was used for the sole purpose of making your eyelashes stand out without calling attention to the fact that you have mascara on, colored mascara is now used to make a bold statement. If you choose a colored mascara, we recommend that you stick to darker colors like navy blue or plum, as opposed to light blue or green. The latter is just too bizarre and unnatural for our tastes. Mascara comes in a wand with a tube; there are straight wands, and there are curved wands. The shape of the wand is a matter of preference so you have our permission to experiment with both.

Lip makeup

Experts argue over whether you should apply lipstick or lipliner first, and we've translated this to mean that you should just try it both ways and see what turns out better on you. The makeup masters all agree on this fact though: your lipstick and lipliner should match and blend together. NEVER apply a liner that's darker to your lipstick in an effort to make the liner stand out. That was an awful, awful '90s fad, and everyone was glad to see it pass. More about applying lip makeup in step 6.

  • Lipstick. Even girls who don't usually wear makeup have been known to slap on some lipstick from time to time. There's gloss lipstick (which comes in a little pot or tube with a wand), and frost, matte, and cream lipsticks (which come in the famous lipstick stick). Try out all the different kinds of lipsticks to find out the ones you are most comfortable wearing (they are all quite different in texture). If you don't have any money, buy a cherry popsicle and give it a suck before going out the door (if you like that "6-year-old returning from camp" look).

  • Lipliner. Lipliner goes around the perimeter of your lips and is used to define them and keep lipstick in place. (Lipstick clings to the lipliner and is therefore less likely to rub off or "bleed"). Lipliners typically come in pencil form.


Blush should go on after all of your other makeup because it is the final touch and should match the rest of your makeup, not vice versa. Choose a blush color that resembles the color on your cheeks after you've exercised. Anything darker than that will look fake. Blush is the one thing you should not have to blend, because if you do, it means it's too bright for your skin. Blush comes in powder and gel/cream forms. Powder is easiest for beginners to use because it's easy to brush on and it doesn't get streaky. Gel or cream makes good daywear because it gives off a fresh and dewy look. Learn more about applying blush in step 6.